Thursday, May 29, 2008

Notes from An Aspie Pastor: The One Thing

It would be an understatement to say that I can be a driven person. If there is something that I am passionate about, watch out.

It's also not an understatement to say that I am pretty single-minded. If something is of interest to me, it becomes The One Thing.

When I was ordained, I got it in my head that I needed to do something. So, I looked for various openings in churches, nevermind if they fit or didn't fit. I was driven to have a call in ministry.

That was the same thinking I had with Community of Grace. I didn't really plan anything, I just did it. I had a passion for ministry and was single-minded in my purpose.

Probably because of the Aspergers, I tend to have this drive to do something, anything related to my vocation. It's The One Thing.

Case in point: a few weeks ago, I asked the Associate Pastor if I could be of help with what I thought was an issue. She responded saying this would only confuse issues. In my line of thinking, I tend to think, "I have the skills. I can help!" So, when someone explains that my help isn't needed (and sometimes not wanted) I feel bad and confused wondering why they didn't want my help.

Of course, I am learning that not all positions in churches are good for me. And that when I am chided in helping, it's not a slam against me. But the drive remains.

People with Aspergers tend to be hyper-focused. I can see how that has played in my life. But how can I use this skill to my advantage?

A post on Yahoo has some interesting insights on the highs and lows of having autism:

  • strong conceptualization skill (able to mentally model complex systems, may develop instinctive understanding of the system from this internalized model)

  • logical thinking (strong skills in technical research or computer programming)

  • exceptional memory

  • attention to detail (can identify inconsistencies in processes or communications)

  • honest, straightforward (can treat people fairly)

  • intense focus

  • willing and able to learn great depth of information in specific field
Gavin Bollard, an Australian with Aspergers ( I guess that makes him an Aussie Aspie) has this to say about jobs in general:

Probably the best thing that an aspie can do is to find work that is either related to their special interest or work which doesn't conflict with too many of the general aspie characteristics. While there is a tendency for aspies to seek jobs in computing and academic fields, there is no reason why aspies cannot be employed in lots of other areas.

Special interest jobs are very good for aspies as they can often be quite innovative and can easily take on leader, designer and developer roles. Unlike their co-workers, aspies often live and breathe their special interests and therefore have a genuine interest in pursing them - rather than simply focusing on the job at hand.
So, what does that mean for me and my call? Don't know yet. However, I am going to do a few things in the near future that will help. First, I am going to talk with the Regional Minister about this (that's the Disciples version of a bishop-type person). Second, I am going to set up an appointment with a local center that helps pastors discover their skills.

The One Thing isn't a bad thing. I just need a place to put it to good use.

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